It was one of those dreams that stayed with me long after I woke up. As I sat there on my bed trying to recreate the scene in my mind many of the details remained abundantly clear while others quickly faded into my memory. It was not a particularly action oriented dream – there was nothing scary about it or anything overly dramatic. Yet the story was compelling and I was lost in the fantasy of what played out in my sleep. But just as it seemed the events were drawing to a climax, I woke up, leaving me with a sense that the dream was “unfinished”. I wanted to know what happened, how the story ended, and how those events impacted myself and others. Unfortunately, I was left with the uncomfortable reality that I may never know. As I sat there and wondered in mild frustration, I found myself wishing I could go back to sleep and pick up the dream where it left off.
Now, several hours later, I find myself still thinking about that dream and wondering what it might mean, if anything. Like many of you, I don’t remember many of my dreams, so when I do it always intrigues me. Was there a meaning or message behind the dream? Was God actually speaking to me or was my sub-conscious simply putting together random events and creating a story to occupy my sleeping mind? Maybe it was even a little of both!
While I don’t have an answer for that dilemma as I sit down to write this blog, one of thoughts that came to me after this most recent encounter with my dreams is how last night’s experience is actually somewhat of a reflection on the year that has just passed in my life. I’m not suggesting that was the message behind the dream, but the analogy struck me this afternoon.
The past 12 months have been unlike any other in my life, with numerous situations that still seem to be “unfinished”. My routine was altered by circumstances beyond my control, many of which I had rarely or never personally experienced before. There was a serious health scare, the betrayal of some close friends, an unexpected job loss, some relational conflicts, a difficult personnel transition at the church where I serve, and all the normal stresses of life centered on finances and our future. While specific action was taken on many of these fronts throughout the year, as December closed a good number of these situations seem to still be very much in process and will continue to be for the foreseeable future. There was not a nice, tidy wrap up of many of these circumstances just because the calendar changed. Like my dream, they are “unfinished”.
I’m convinced a good deal of our lives are always in flux. Circumstances come and go, changes happen whether we expect them or not, people come in and out our daily routines, pressure builds up before ultimately being released, windows of opportunity open or close, physical hurdles creep into our lives unexpectedly, and our own sense of well-being is often impacted by how life is going on all around us. Learning to deal with the “flux” of the “unfinished” is the shared experience of us all, whether we like it or not.
I wish I could say I have the secret for living with this uncomfortable reality, but that’s just not the case. As I move into this new year I am filled with questions about the uncertainties of my own experience based on the “unfinished” events of the past year. Will my relationships deepen? Will my health issues remained stabilized? Will an idea for a new venture become viable? What unexpected circumstances will disrupt the status quo? How will I be able to live out my faith? Where can I make a positive impact on the lives of others? I’d rather be entering this new year with no “unfinished” business, but my future seems to reflect the unfinished nature of my dream last night more this year than any year I can remember. My journey into the great unknown of the next 12 months will carry with it some leftover baggage.
Perhaps as we get older we become more and more aware of the things left undone. When I was a child or a youth, the start of a new year simply meant more of the same……school, basketball, friends or working a part time job. The biggest concerns I had were for how I would use my free time after school, where I’d get some spending money, and which friends I’d choose to hang out with.
As I got a bit older I began to realize there was more to life than just a few bucks to spend and people to spend it with. I started to take my faith seriously, and began was has become a lifelong endeavor to be a better reflection of God I’ve gotten to know in the Bible. That eventually led to getting serious about my education, marriage, children, and a career in fulltime Christian service. There has been incredible privilege associated with that role, giving me the fulfilling opportunity to impact the lives of others. But the more I’ve done or accomplished, the more I’ve realized how much more I could have done or experienced. The passage of time has given me a greater appreciation for what has been a part of my life and a broader perspective on what the future may hold.
As I reflect now on my “unfinished” dream, I’m keenly unaware of the “unfinished” nature of the events that dominated my life last year and the understanding that many of these things will continue to be a part of my life over the next 12 months, and perhaps much longer. It is not my responsibility to tidy up all the loose ends before moving forward. The “messiness” is just part of the package. I’m not sure I feel “blessed” by that reality, but at least it helps to know it goes with the territory of being human.
Perhaps, like me, you’ve been somewhat disturbed with the “unfinished” nature of some of the things going on in your life. I would never tell you I understand because everyone’s situation is different. But I can assure you you’re not alone. Whatever your circumstances may be, I’d encourage you to keep your chin up and put one foot in front of the other. God can and will help you walk through whatever your future may hold…….even those things you don’t know anything about yet. There will be some surprises — some pleasant and some not so pleasant — but we have the privilege of walking hand in hand with the one who sees the future as well as He sees the past. He knows us all……INTIMATELY…..so we can trust Him to guide and direct us, just like He promised. He knows something about “unfinished business”…….so He sent His Son to one day say “IT IS FINISHED”. Someday we all have the chance to join Him in that bold assertion if we will just allow Him to lead us through all the “unfinished” dreams of our lives!